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Robotics

The Best Robots of 2009 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-show dept.
kkleiner writes "Singularity Hub has just unveiled its second annual roundup of the best robots of the year. In 2009 robots continued their advance towards world domination with several impressive breakouts in areas such as walking, automation, and agility, while still lacking in adaptability and reasoning ability. It will be several years until robots can gain the artificial intelligence that will truly make them remarkable, but in the meantime they are still pretty awesome."

Comment: Re:greed (Score 1) 239

by Horar (#28318903) Attached to: The Birth and Battle of Conficker

Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful though flawed response. The thing is, I never mentioned Linux. Furthermore, I would say that the continued existence and popularity of the Apple Macintosh refutes the rest of your arguments hinging on ease of use and technical support. In fact you have perfectly illustrated the point that I am making here.

There was a time when doctors routinely prescribed smoking cigarettes as a quick and easy fix to all manner of ills. The long term hazards and effects weren't properly understood, and by the time they were, there was such a huge vested interest in perpetuating the smoking habit that the battle to remove it for the common good is still far from over, and may never be.

Likewise it is all too easy to facilitate yet another Windows installation, rather than risking your income by swimming against the tide. Even if you already know that the software that you are installing is inferior, you will go ahead and install it anyway, putting your own self interest ahead of those of your unfortunate clients.

As for the attitude of management towards this corruption that is so pervasive throughout the industry, I think a quote from one of my own past employers sums it up the best. "If we adopt this other more cost effective technology it will reduce my departmental budget and then Bob (the manager of another department) will get a better parking spot than me."

Comment: Re:Robots in Space (Score 1) 273

by Horar (#26627677) Attached to: Remembering NASA Disasters With an Eye Toward the Future

Yes, you do that.

Who knows, you could accomplish the space age equivalent of introducing syphilis to polynesia, or bring tobacco to civilisation.

But I expect that all you're really capable of doing is tearing up the sand dunes in your SUV, shooting stuff with guns, and leaving your empty beer cans behind.

So if you do go on a trip, don't come back.

Press Favored Obama Throughout Campaign 1601

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the kudos-for-owning-up-to-it dept.
narcberry writes "After complaints of one-sided reporting, the Washington Post checked their own articles and agreed. Obama was clearly favored, throughout his campaign, in terms of more favorable articles, less criticism, better page real-estate, more pictures, and total disregard for problems such as his drug use. 'Stories and photos about Obama in the news pages outnumbered those devoted to McCain. Reporters, photographers and editors found the candidacy of Obama, the first African American major-party nominee, more newsworthy and historic. Journalists love the new; McCain, 25 years older than Obama, was already well known and had more scars from his longer career in politics. The number of Obama stories since Nov. 11 was 946, compared with McCain's 786. Both had hard-fought primary campaigns, but Obama's battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton was longer, and the numbers reflect that. McCain clinched the GOP nomination on March 4, three months before Obama won his. From June 4 to Election Day, the tally was Obama, 626 stories, and McCain, 584. Obama was on the front page 176 times, McCain, 144 times; 41 stories featured both.'"
Transportation

Australia Developing Massive Electric Vehicle Grid 260

Posted by timothy
from the must-avert-mad-max-at-all-costs dept.
blairerickson writes "A US firm Thursday unveiled plans to build a massive one-billion-dollar charging network to power electric cars in Australia as it seeks cleaner and cheaper options to petrol. Better Place, which has built plug-in stations for electric vehicles in Israel and Denmark, has joined forces with Australian power company AGL and finance group Macquarie Capital to create an Australian network. Under the plan, the three cities will each have a network of between 200,000 and 250,000 charge stations by 2012 where drivers can plug in and power up their electric cars. The points would probably be at homes and businesses, car parks and shopping centres. In addition, 150 switch stations will be built in each city and on major freeways, where electric batteries can be automatically replaced in drive-in stations similar to a car wash." I hope they're talking to the car companies about the necessary standardization it would take to make this work, too.
Moon

Unbelievably Large Telescopes On the Moon? 292

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-no-moon dept.
Matt_dk writes "A team of internationally renowned astronomers and opticians may have found a way to make "unbelievably large" telescopes on the Moon. 'It's so simple,' says Ermanno F. Borra, physics professor at the Optics Laboratory of Laval University in Quebec, Canada. 'Isaac Newton knew that any liquid, if put into a shallow container and set spinning, naturally assumes a parabolic shape, the same shape needed by a telescope mirror to bring starlight to a focus. This could be the key to making a giant lunar observatory.'"
The Almighty Buck

+ - US Consumerism Poses Global Recession Threat->

Submitted by
Horar
Horar writes "From the article: One of the world's leading economists has issued a scathing denunciation of American consumerism, saying overspending could lead to a "catastrophic" recession... He says the United States has a current account deficit of $US811 billion for last year, which means America is borrowing [more than two] billion a day from overseas.

What are the implications of this for the IT industry if there is such a recession? Alternatively, what would happen if rampant consumerism is brought under control? Isn't it that very consumerism that pushes the development of the devices and technologies which most slashdotters could not live without?"

Link to Original Source
Hardware Hacking

Playing With Atomic Clocks At Home 167

Posted by kdawson
from the as-i-was-walking-down-the-street-one-day dept.
Wired is running a profile of the Time Nuts, a small group of people who buy surplus precision time equipment — cesium clocks for example — on eBay and keep really accurate time, because they can. The article quotes Tom Van Baak, who has outfitted a time lab superior to those of many small countries: "If you have one clock... you are peaceful and have no worries. If you have two clocks... you start asking, 'What time is it, really?'"
Biotech

+ - Are Humans Evolving Faster?

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens
Hugh Pickens writes "A new study examining data from the International Haplotype Mapping Project describes the past 40,000 years as a time of supercharged evolutionary change driven by exponential population growth and cultural shifts. The findings may lead to a very broad rethinking of human evolution, especially in the view that modern culture has essentially relaxed the need for physical genetic changes in humans to improve survival. Anthropologist John Hawks estimates that positive selection in the past 5,000 years has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period of human evolution because large populations have more genetic variation. Many of the new genetic adjustments are occurring around changes in the human diet brought on by the advent of agriculture, and resistance to epidemic diseases that became major killers after the growth of human civilizations. Malaria is one of the clearest examples, Hawks says, given that there are now more than two dozen identified genetic adaptations that relate to malaria resistance, including an entirely new blood type known as the Duffy blood type. "We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals," Hawks adds."

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